Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 1: “I was never the same again”

This is a transcript of the biographical message given at the 1991 Pastor’s Conference on Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God, (Wayne Grudem [an Eau Claire native!] was the main speaker):

Sources

First a word about sources.  They’re almost out of these downstairs, but buy what’s left.  The 2 volume biography is where I got everything I know about his life, by Iain Murray, Banner of Truth.  And then, these three books are my three sources basically for what I’m going to say, Revival, Crossway, Joy Unspeakable and The Sovereign Spirit [also titled Prove All Things], Harold Shaw Publishers in this country. [Joy Unspeakable and The Sovereign Spirit were published together under the title The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit].  If you want a 20 page outline of his life Five Evangelical  Leaders by his grandson, real fun book to read about Stott, and Lloyd-Jones, and Schaeffer and Packer and Billy Graham, little mini biographies.  I hope you all have or will have Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones I’m just going to dip into here for a few quotes that seem to me crucial.  And, uh, this is the Bible.  Which is in everything.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones The Preacher

In Preaching and Preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Preaching has been my life’s work … to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called” (PP, 9).  and even as I read it again, it makes tingles go up and down my backbecause I have been privileged by God to be called to preach, I can’t get over the awesome privilege of having been called by the living God to herald his truth.

Many called him the last of the Calvinistic Methodist preachers because he had Calvin’s love for truth and sound reformed doctrine.  He was thoroughly calvinistic and reformed, and on the other side fire and passion.  For thirty years he preached at the Westminster Chapel in London. Usually that meant three times on a weekend, Friday evening,  Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Most of his time then was spent getting ready for that as well as speaking elsewhere during the week.  He said at the end of his career, “I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching” (PP, 4).

But most other  prople who heard him did not share that opinion.  J. I. Packer, when he was was 22 years old as a student heard Lloyd-Jones during the ’48-49 years and said that he had “never heard such preaching.” It came to him “with the force of electric shock, bringing to at least one of his hearers more of a sense of God than any other man”  (FEL, 170).  They did have a kind of falling out later on which is sort of sad, but Packer, never, never stopped praising Lloyd-Jones.  Not to this day in fact I recommend the book by Samuel P. Logan called Preachers and Preaching, I believe, something like that and Packer writes Why Preach as the lead essay and it’s dynamite and it’s got more of Lloyd-Jones in it.

Many of us have felt this electric shock though we never knew him personally, though we can hear him on tape, if you want to,  we felt it even coming through his books.  I can remember as a student in 1967 going to Urbana  with my fiancé Noel, and hearing George Verwer, as he always does, hold up a book and say, “This is the most important book that’s been written” in whatever amount of time he says.  And he held up in that time the two volume work by Martyn Lloyd-Jones’  on the Sermon on the Mount and he said, “This is the greatest book that has been written in this century.”  well he had no right to say that, because he doesn’t read all the books, but I said, “that is an amazing statement.”  I went home and in the summer of 1968 I read those 2 volumes through before I went to seminary, that was between college and seminary. and I was never the same again.  I was primed for the theology I discovered at seminary by this awesome picture of the Lord.   “the greatness and weight of spiritual issues” (The Preacher and Preaching, 7), is what Packer said very few men have been able to duplicate.

A Sketch of His Life

Just a real brief sketch of his life.  His path to Westminster was unique. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, in December 20, 1899. Then he moved to London with his family when he was 14 and went to Medical School St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, got his M.D. in 1921.  his supervisor said he was “the most acute thinker that he’d ever known” (FEL, 56).

He had a profound conversion experience during the 1921-23 year, and his  passion to preach just exploded so strongly that he left behind the medical career never to return in any official way.

He took a church in Sandfields, Aberavon , and  married Bethan Phillips, January 8, 1926, and  they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, over the course of their marriage.  He stayed there I think about 12 years

And then he was in Philadelphia, preaching  and G. Campbell Morgan was in the audience, sitting in the back, the pastor of Westminster Chapel, and heard this young man preach, and felt, “I must seek this man to be my associate at the Westminster Chapel” and he did seek him and through a series of events, got him to come, that was September 1939 and in 1943 G. Campbell Morgan retired and until 1968 the preaching pastor of Westminster Chapel was Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

He retired in 1968, worked on his writings for 12 years as well as speaking, and then died in his sleep March 1, 1981.

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